The True North Stands Alone
December 17, 2007 10:20 AM   Subscribe

Recommendations for dystopian sci-fi, with a Canadian twist.

I'm extremely interested in a particular type of dystopian sci-fi lit -- one in which the US and/or most of the world has fallen into disrepair, but Canada stands more or less relatively intact and figures into the storyline. I'm looking for printed material primarily, but if anyone's got movies to share that would be great too.

Two examples I can think of off the top of my head -- Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and (god help me) Barb Wire.

Any good suggestions? I would dig on having something great to read over holiday break. Thank you!
posted by the dief to Grab Bag (18 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Oh and yeah, much thanks to maudlin and Chuckles for listening to me yammer on about this at last weekend's meetup.
posted by the dief at 10:21 AM on December 17, 2007

The Chrysalids comes to mind--everyone who's left (and isn't mutated) is in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The City Under Ground is a YA novel about a society that lives under mount royal. Ah, memories from elementary school!
posted by goingonit at 10:26 AM on December 17, 2007

I don't have the book in front of me at the moment, but there might be something in the Northern Stars anthology.
posted by jjb at 10:27 AM on December 17, 2007

There are sections of World War Z that focus on Americans fleeing to Canada, where the winters renders the "Zeds" frozen and inert.
posted by Nelsormensch at 10:34 AM on December 17, 2007

Try Elizabeth Bear's trilogy that starts with Hammered; global warming and religious nutbars have made the US go dystopic, while Canada and China emerge as the global superpowers. Oh - and if I'm not misremembering there are space ships called the Buffy Ste. Marie and the Leonard Cohen.
posted by Jeanne at 10:37 AM on December 17, 2007

Jim Munroe's novel Everyone in Silico is about future dystopia, and a bunch of Vancouver folk caught between a fresh new virtual world and a crumbling real one.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:42 AM on December 17, 2007

Not quite what you're asking for, but there's section in Peter Watt's Rifters trilogy (Starfish, Maelstrom and Behemoth) in which Quebec is discussed as, basically, a superpower.

A brief quote from Maelstrom's acknowledgments: Given a world in which Quebec has become the predominant economic power, I figured various Quebecisms would have worked their way into casual N'Am conversation...

And they're all available, for free, here.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 11:08 AM on December 17, 2007

And Peter Watt's stories are definitely dystopian. Huge swaths of North America are now refugee camps. There's practically no energy left. Etc. etc.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 11:09 AM on December 17, 2007

The Last Canadian comes close to what you are looking for.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 11:15 AM on December 17, 2007

I can't remember if it mentions the US at all, but Nalo Hopkinson's Brown Girl in the Ring takes place in Toronto. And it's absolutely fantastic.
posted by Katemonkey at 12:24 PM on December 17, 2007

Friday features this motif to a lessor extent.
posted by Mitheral at 12:34 PM on December 17, 2007

Arrgghhh! All the good ones I was going to mention have been taken! All I have left is Atwood's Oryx and Crake, only because she talks about the booming summer resort of Moosonee. Hugh MacLennan (he of Two Solitudes fame) also wrote a dystopian novel called Voices in Time set in Montreal after a nuclear war but I haven't read it personally even though it has sat on my bookshelf for twenty years.

And if you are looking for a little romance there is Day of fire by Kathleen Nance. From publishers review weekly:" ...this entry centers on Canada, a nation that closed its borders to the outside world after being ravaged by disease. The year is 2176, and Canada, now stronger for its trials, is full of fresh clean air, high-tech sleds and (of course) Mounties. With her staunch adherence to the letter of the law, Day Daniels is one of those "stiff brim" Mounties. The only survivor of a plague-ridden community, Day finds solace in the steadiness of the Mountie way of life. But when her partner is murdered and traces of a new strain of smallpox are found on his body, Day must join forces with sexy Lian Firebird, a plague hunter, to stop what might be the next great epidemic. During their mission, Day and Lian find time to steam up the snow—quite literally—in love scenes that are heavy on inventiveness and frostbite potential."
posted by saucysault at 1:19 PM on December 17, 2007

Not quite what you are specifying but "Crisis in Zefra" is a novella featuring a technologically superior Canada conducting a peacekeeping mission in a hypothetical war-torn developing nation in 2025 when "...the situation suddenly degrades into a 'three-block-war' scenario."

The interesting thing is the Canadian military commissioned Karl Schroeder to write the piece. It was also the subject of a FPP.
posted by catdog at 4:06 PM on December 17, 2007

in Jack McDevitt's Eternity Road the only source of knowledge left 800 years after the great plague ravaged the entire world may be a place called "Haven" in Newfoundland.
posted by Megafly at 4:13 PM on December 17, 2007

Now I am getting obsessed with this topic ... The Bone House by Luanne Armstrong is set in a commune outside Vancouver after ecological and social collapse. There are several short stories with this theme I have read over the years but I can't remember any names/titles. Sorry. Oh, and in case you haven't seen the movie adaptation of the Handmaids tale I really, really don't recommend it.
posted by saucysault at 5:54 PM on December 17, 2007

And the topic has led me to reading about a novel of Jack London (whom I love) called The Iron Heel in which robber barons take over the US, but unfortunately the oligarchy in Canada crushes the lower classes as well. Still, it would be interesting to read this novel from 1908.
posted by saucysault at 5:59 PM on December 17, 2007

In Mick Farren's The Armageddon Crazy the US has fallen under the heel of a religious dictatorship, and is cut off from the rest of the world. Canada has remained free, and in the aftermath of a US coup, "liberates" the States (with, I believe, support from a still extant Soviet Union).
posted by Chrysostom at 6:22 PM on December 17, 2007

Man, askme smacks it out of the park yet again - some wonderful sounding stuff here, and some of it is even at my local public library. Thanks everyone!
posted by the dief at 7:33 PM on December 17, 2007

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